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11th Jul 2018

Winners of England vs Croatia will be ‘unofficial world champions’

And you thought tonight couldn't matter any more...

Simon Lloyd

Just when you thought England’s World Cup semi-final couldn’t get any more important…

It’s not *just* a place in the final on the line in Moscow on Wednesday night. Oh no. For England and Croatia, it’s a chance to be (unofficial) world champions a good few days before a ball’s even been kicked in Sunday’s big game.

As pointed out by The Mirror, this is all down to the website for the Unofficial Football World Championships. They’ve looked back through the history of international football, determining who the reigning world champions are on a ‘winner stays on’ basis.

For those unfamiliar (do we really need to explain this?), this basically means that the winner of a game remains the champion until they are beaten by another challenger, who then automatically inherits their title. They then put this on the line when they take on their next opponent, and so on, and so on…

Applying this to international football, England became the first ever world champions when they beat Scotland in 1873. As you can probably imagine, the title of ‘unofficial world champions’ has changed hands plenty of times since, as is shown in detail on the website, with England not holding the title for 18 years.

Peru began the World Cup as unofficial world champions, only for Denmark to claim the title off them when they defeated them in the group stages. The Danes held on to their crown through draws with Australia and France until losing in the last-16 stage via penalties to, that’s right, Croatia.

Croatia extended their reign with another penalty shootout victory over Russia in the quarter-finals, but could lose out to Gareth Southgate’s men tonight.

There’s also the small matter of getting to the final of an actual official World Cup, too…